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Trauma and TranscendenceSuffering and the Limits of Theory$
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Eric Boynton and Peter Capretto

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823280261

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823280261.001.0001

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Evil, Trauma, and the Building of Absences

Evil, Trauma, and the Building of Absences

(p.83) Chapter 4: Evil, Trauma, and the Building of Absences
Trauma and Transcendence

Eric Boynton

Fordham University Press

A phenomenon with a lingering enigmatic quality, evil has, it seems, been “re-discovered” as a highly suggestive phenomenon today. Evil’s resurgence might be particularly relevant, highlighting lacunae in predominant tendencies of modern thought, specifically in recent attempts to commemorate historical trauma proliferating our genocidal age. This chapter examines the challenge of commemorating historical trauma and atrocity by considering the counter-monuments proposed and completed by the German installation artist, Horst Hoheisel. This study links Emmanuel Levinas’ work with Hoheisel’s constructions and trauma theory’s characterization of trauma as non-assimilable with recent philosophical considerations of evil and suffering in our genocidal age. In this light, Hoheisel’s attempt to bring to presence that which is essentially absent opens up an alternative approach to evil and trauma issuing from the perspective of absence and loss, thereby granting the failure of therapeutic techniques an ethical significance.

Keywords:   Atrocity, Commemoration, Ethics, Evil, Hoheisel, Horst, Levinas, Emmanuel, Suffering, Trauma

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